Ranking the Contenders: Franck Kepnang
If there were to ever be another in the mold of Udoka Azubuike to grace the college game anytime soon, it will come in the form of Franck Kepnang. After deciding to remain in his original 2021 class, Kepnang can now focus all of his attention on where he wants spend his college career.
Not short on suitors, Kepnang is one of the best centers in America in a class that is lacking in elite talent in the paint. Sitting with practically all the leverage when it comes to his recruitment, Kepnang is in no rush to make a decision while things continue to play out with those making him a priority. Below, we rank the contenders for his commitment.
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2022 Rankings: Top 75
Miami will have a gaping hole within its interior after the season with the graduations of Rodney Miller and Nysier Brooks, which makes it important that Jim Larranaga and his staff strike in the center category. Slated to not have a single 5-man on its roster once next spring arrives, Kepnang has become important to the short- and long-term projections at the U. The current Miami staff has a bevy of its recent recruiting wins in Kepnang's region of Pennsylvania.
2. OHIO STATE
Ohio State's top-five class has three Rivals150 products but no centers, which is why Kepnang is one of its top targets. The Buckeyes have not wavered from pursuing some of the best from the Northeast in recent years, whether it was transfer Luther Muhammed or current freshman Zed Key, but Kepnang would be their biggest pull yet from the region. Mac Etienne, Chet Holmgren and Charles Bediako could also look at Ohio State, but OSU is more than just lip service when it comes to the recruitment of Kepnang.
Oregon has signed just one high school prospect in 12 months -- Jalen Terry. While the Ducks are not expected to lose anyone from their frontcourt after the season, there is always a chance that N’Faly Dante, pending how his season fairs, could leave the Eugene campus earlier than expected. If that is the case, Kepnang evolves from a priority to a must-get. The Ducks have some catching up to do, but they are in the fight.
Speaking of Azubuike, you have to believe that Bill Self and his staff are using him as a recruiting pitch with Kepnang and his circle. Silvio De Sousa will exhaust his college eligibility in the spring, as will Mitch Lightfoot, so there is a definite need in Lawrence that Self could erase with Kepnang.
Throwing the top-30 prospect on its roster would immediately answer arguably its biggest roster question, which comes at a spot that is a must in Self’s system. The Jayhawks will need a few pieces in the backcourt, too, but Kepnang or any other center that they track is their most important target moving forward.
5. ST. JOHN'S
Mike Anderson has placed a heavy value on Northeast talent but has yet to strike when it comes to landing a top-50 prospect. That could change if Kepnang says yes to the Red Storm. St. John’s is not in a place where it should feel comfortable, but it is in the picture and it has a giant need that Kepnang could erase.
There are some intriguing pieces in the Red Storm cupboard, but Kepnang could become the face of the program and remind St. John’s fans of what they had during the old Big East days thanks to the four-star’s ferocity and physicality around the basket.
After enrolling a loaded 2020 class that will infuse his roster with a bevy of immediate producers along the frontline, Jeff Capel will be back at it again in the 2021 class. Faced with replacing Terrell Brown after he graduates in the spring, the Panthers are also involved with Samson Johnson, Efton Reid and Mac Etienne.
However, Pitt will bring to campus Kepnang’s former school teammate, Noah Collier, which should only help its pursuit of the 7-footer. However, if Capel wants to have any chance with Kepnang, further work must be completed as the Panthers are playing from behind with a handful of suitors in a much better spot with him.